ABC 7 News: Obama answers critics at Rainbow PUSH convention
By Andy Shaw
Senator Barack Obama returned to Chicago after Sunday's heated Democratic Presidential debate. Two of his fellow candidates were also in Chicago Monday as they raised questions about Obama's candidacy and looked for votes from the African American community.
Obama was back in Chicago to reaffirm his commitment to the issues that are near and dear to Reverend Jesse Jackson and hundreds of others attending the Rainbow PUSH convention, which included national labor leaders and local union members. Obama did not get a pass Monday from two of the other presidential contenders at the conference who raised questions about his qualifications to be president.
To the surprise of no one, Obama attracted the most attention on the opening day of Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH convention in Rosemont. But presidential candidate Bill Richardson asked the crowd at the convention to put substance ahead of style by looking at his resume. Richardson was the U.S. Energy Secretary, Ambassador to the United Nations and an international peace negotiator before he holds his current post as the governor of New Mexico.
"This race should not be determined by who is the bigger rock star or celebrity now and I'm working on that right now," Richardson said. "I submit to you that the next President should not be somebody who would need on the job training."
Obama did not take the bait as he said his resume is obviously good enough to make him a democratic frontrunner.
"You're not going to draw me into this argument," Obama said. "I'm glad that I'm attracting a lot of attention because that means we're doing pretty well."
The other presidential candidate at the convention was Congressman Dennis Kucinich from Cleveland, who is a long shot for obtaining the Democratic nomination. He said Obama and the other front runners have betrayed the voters who gave Democrats control of Congress last fall by not using the power of the purse strings to immediately end the war in Iraq immediately.
"The Democratic Party was elected in November to control the House and the Senate on one issue and one issue alone, and that is the issue of the war," Kucinich said. "Instead of stopping the funding for the war, what do we get? We get a Democratic version of the war in Iraq."
"He believes that we can unilaterally cut funding and it's just not true," said Obama in reaction to Kucinich's remarks. "We just don't have the votes."
Obama also talked briefly Monday about immigration reform which is being debated in the Senate this week. When he was asked about the budget stalemate in Springfield, where he served eight years in the Illinois senate and whether he regrets endorsing Todd Stroger for Cook County Board President Obama said he's been too busy with the presidential campaign to pay attention to local politics.